Being the first time in Ironman 70.3 history that a Pro son and his father competed together at the same race, the 2 Rudys were highly motivated to accomplish good individual results in their respective categories, Pro and AG 60-64. Unfortunately, a brutal 40km/h bike crash by Rodolphe “Rudy” von Berg Jr on the Wednesday, 4 days before the race almost derailed their objective.
At the end of the workout, Rudy von Berg’s training partner unexpectedly veered left taking Rudy’s front wheel with him. It left Rudy crashing on his right side and, in the process, breaking the bike’s derailleur hanger. After 3 hrs in the hospital and no bones broken, he could return home with lots of bruises and cuts and still a chance to make the race. The special hanger could not be found on such short notice. So, the local super bike mechanic, Cycles Sordello, spent 2 hrs building a custom made hanger.
It was a given that nothing would deter him from being with his father at the start, even with several bandages on. After a normal swim, Rudy Jr exited T1 in 3rd place behind Germans Michael Raelert et Nils Frommhold. Another German, Andi Boecherer, passed him with a train of 6 athletes at km15. Rudy was quite unconfortable on the bike because the wound on his elbow lies on the armrest. So he couldn’t follow the leaders’ rythm and reached T2 in 8th place. The good news is that he does not feel any disconfort running. Due to the best run time, 1h13, of the day, Rudy Jr will catch the German Dreitz, the Swiss Rudy Wild, and towards the end the Russian Tutukin and the German Dirksmeier for a very satisfying 5th place.
His father, Rodolphe von Berg, had a much easier race and, leading from the swim, won his AG 60-64 with a 20-minute margin.
Perhaps more important than the results were the emotions felt by the Father & Son making history. In their own words “We crossed each other once on the bike and 3 times on the run which was quite exciting. It gives you extra motivation to perform well.” During the second loop, the father saw his son overtaking the Swiss Wild. “What an extraordinary feeling, it raises your heart rate by a few beats!,” he said. And even more phenomenal, 500 m from the finish, Rudy Jr passes his father at a supersonic pace with the German Dirksmeier in his wake and the Russian Tutukin about 30 meters behind. “I shouted at Junior a huge encouragement,” said Rudy Sr. Then, at the finish line, the son is there to greet and hug his father while the speaker mentions their family link. Images and feelings that will be ingraved in their memories. What an apotheosis!
The 2 Rudys hope that it is the beginning of a long journey together at major Ironman 70.3 Championships and, in a few years, when Junior is ready, at Ironman Championships. If all goes well, they plan to be at the start of the Worlds IM 70.3 in Chattanooga, Tenneesee, next September.